For The Madera Tribune
Many small Chihuahua-mix dogs pant without water in 111-degree heat, while stacked in 2-by-3-foot crates inside campers found Wednesday evening in Coarsegold. Some cats were also found, in worse condition. The campers had no power or water hookups.
Madera County Animal Control responds to citizen report
COARSEGOLD — A call from a concerned resident led Madera County Animal Control officers to a hoarding situation inside two decrepit campers Wednesday evening in 105-degree heat. The campers had no power or water.
Inside the campers, officers found 50 small Chihuahua-mix dogs and six cats. The animals were in sweltering conditions in multiple, stacked small crates with no water or food.
“The temperature inside the campers was 111 degrees on our arrival,” said Madera County Animal Services Director Kirsten Gross. “The dogs had no water or food bowls, and were standing in their own feces. Most of the small cages were crowded with multiple dogs or cats.
“The dogs were not skinny but they have untreated skin disease and the older ones have dental disease. They are not altered, and had no vaccinations. The cats are in worse condition. It’s inhumane — no animal should have to live its life like this, in a small, cramped crate.”
The owner, a woman, in her mid- to late-70s and her adult son were reportedly found squatting with the two campers on reservation lands near Coarsegold, and were apparently living in one camper and using the other one to primarily contain their dogs and cats, although crated animals were found in both campers.
According to Wikipedia, animal hoarding is keeping a higher-than-usual number of animals as domestic pets without having the ability to properly house or care for them, while at the same time denying this inability. Compulsive hoarding can be characterized as a symptom of mental disorder rather than deliberate cruelty towards animals.
The two residents were known to authorities, Gross said, and had been contacted and checked by animal control officers in years previous, “but they move around a lot, and had passed a condition check with better conditions and fewer animals at that time,” she said.
Gross said she was also unsure whether the animals were ever let out of the confinement of the small crates. “It was filthy, with the animals lying in their own excrement, unable to get away from it. They were also suffering from the lack of water, and with heat stress from the intense heat of the last few weeks.” Gross said.
The seizure of so many animals now places an increased strain on the space and resources of the small and out of date Madera County animal shelter, which is typically full at all times and only has space for approximately 150 animals.
“Now we would like to please ask for some help from the community. We need to get these animals looked at by a vet, and into foster homes. We really need foster homes. The Madera County animal shelter is already full and overcrowded as it is. Anyone that can help please come by or contact us,” Gross said.
The owners could face charges of animal neglect and cruelty in the incident, but that remains to be determined, she said.
Gross said she would like to encourage residents to report animals in bad conditions, living in crates or situations that could be animal hoarding to Madera Animal Control at 675-7891, so that officers can educate residents, offer assistance or intervene if necessary, before situations get out of control.
Donations to help these and other animals in need can be sent to The Friends of Madera Animal Shelter (FMAS) volunteer group at PO Box 923, or dropped off at the shelter at 14269 Road 28, Madera.